I've started my own realty firm, Signature Realty Services. I've moved my realty-related information to that site, www.SigRealty.net. Please go there for your realty interests!


Mike Avila
Signature Realty Services

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BACKGROUND. We get only basic cable, mainly because my kids became addicted to TV at an early age. Ever try getting a little girl to do something when the Power Puff Girls were on? You get the idea. We'd shut off cable totally but after 9/11 we got basic just so we could get the news for emergencies.

Fast forward: We recently added the 'digital starter' package to our cable service -- we get digital channels broadcast unencrypted as long as we use the cable box. And so begins the root of this saga ...

We lost our Fox-HD signal from our digital starter package. No big deal, I thought, just one channel. Then we lost NBC-HD, too, so I called Comcast Monday morning. They said the earliest they could get a technician over would be the next Monday morning. One week, sure. Great service. But whatever -- I wasn't missing any Colts games during while waiting.

The technician shows up and, after two hours and after reprogramming my hdtv tuner and the tech running to the comcast office and bringing out a replacement cable box, determined that Fox-HD and NBC-HD got moved to the Classic tier, and to get those channels in digital format I'd need to subscribe to Classic, for $30+ monthly. "Nah," I thought, Fox-HD+NBC-HD are not worth $30 monthly. So I said no thanks.

Curiosity got the better of me, though. With the conversion in 2009 to all-digital, and with Fox-HD and NBC-HD now part of Classic line-up, does that mean that when we go all-digital that I will get neither Fox nor NBC at all unless I upgrade from basic to classic? And so I sent the question to the local paper's hotline column:


Everybody’s gone channel surfing USA

QUESTION: Because Comcast has moved Fox-HD and NBC to the classic line-up, a subscriber would have to pay for classic service to get those two channels in HD. When all-digital is implemented next year, will these channels remain in the classic tier, meaning basic subscribers won’t receive them? Another question: does Comcast have a Web site that keeps customers informed of channel movement and lineups within each package?

M.A., Bloomington

ANSWER: Mark Apple of Comcast told Hotline that Comcast hasn’t moved WXIN (Fox) HD or WTHR (NBC) HD to the “classic” line-up. They are and always have been a part of the “limited basic service” tier. For customers with a Comcast HD converter, the channels are 906 and 910. Customers who receive HD programming using an HDTV with a QAM tuner can find both channels on channel 70; this may be the reason for the confusion. To ensure you receive all HD programming available, Comcast recommends those without a Comcast HD converter periodically run the auto-program feature on their HDTVs.

Apple directed Hotline to www.tvplanner.net, Comcast’s “excellent source for channel line-ups and programming.” Customers can view channel line-ups, see what’s airing now and in the future, and search for specific programs, movies, or even actors.

I couldn't help but laugh at Apple's reply. Before belaboring the point, though, just in case, I again reprogrammed the tuner on my hdtv -- and anyone with an hdtv with tuner knows how long that can take! And I double-checked to see if I was getting either channel on via my cable box. All efforts failed to obtain nbc-hd or fox-hd. And so I sent the following email reply to the paper's hotline lady on 10/30/08:



Thanks for contacting Comcast regarding my previous question on not getting fox-hd and nbc-hd. Mr. Allen states there is confusion on my part because I don't know where to find the channels. I spent two hours hosting a Comcast customer service representative at my home. There is no confusion on my part. Comcast is the one confused. Mr. Allen's reply directly contradicts the two hours of work by the customer service rep.

Here is what happened:

First, I lost Fox-HD. Then I lost NBC-HD, so I called Comcast customer service. A technician came to my house ... [address removed] at 11am on October 20. I believe I was service call #3. If Mr. Allen checks Comcast's records he can find the tech who came.

While at my house, the tech called in to the main office, who reset my signal, then pinged it to verify it was working. The tech then replaced my cable box. I was getting all expected channels except for the two in question, Fox-HD and NBC-HD. I also reprogrammed the tuner on my HD tv just in case. Whether connecting through the cable box or through my HDTV's tuner, I was still getting neither Fox-HD nor NBC-HD. All this was done with the customer tech present.

The tech then told me there is no way I can get Fox-HD nor NBC-HD unless I subscribe to the Classic package, that Comcast is aligning Bloomington channels with the Indy channel line-up, that unless I upgrade for the cost of classic there is nothing I can do, and left my house with an apologetic look on his face.

So this directly contradicts Mr. Allen's reply. This morning, after reading your column, I reprogrammed my HDTV tuner. No fox/nbc-hd. In fact, there are no channels at all on the channel 70 tier. I even unplugged/replugged my cable box, tried channels 906/910, neither comes in.

Since, according to Mr. Allen, I am supposed to receive Fox-HD and NBC-HD as part of my basic tier programming, could you please ask Mr. Allen to send a customer service rep to my house who can get me those channels? I have not had them for the entire month of October. He can reach me at [ph# deleted]. He can leave a message if I don't answer and I'll return his call promptly.

Thanks again for all your help!


Mike Avila

Flash forward to one week, later, 11/5/08: Who do you think knocks on my front door? None other than the comcast techie who had made the initial two-hour visit! Upon my answering the door, he announced that he installed a missing filter at my cable junction box that allows me to get fox-hd and nbc-hd. So I was supposed to get them all along!


How many people on this planet can say they've gotten an unscheduled appointment from the cable company to repair their cable problems???  I am definitely in a tiny minority. On the flip side, if you believe in karma, I sure hate to use mine on something like this! But at least I get nbc-hd and fox-hd now.




I've started my own realty firm, Signature Realty Services, and have moved my real estate content to that company's web site, at www.SigRealty.net. Please go there for your realty needs. - Mike